Bodybuilders seek to be best versions of themselves
Area women find success in world of bodybuilding
In recent years, Medford has seen an increase of popularity in competitive bodybuilding. Within the last month, two women from Medford participated in their first bodybuilding competition. On May 8, Medford resident Jen Meyer went to Duluth for the Diva Classic All Women’s Event. On June 5, recent Medford graduate, Sarah Thums, went to Madison for the Junior USA Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
BothMeyerandThumshavebeentraining at Stronger Version Fitness currently located at 330 S. Whelen Ave. Stronger Version Fitness, formerly Electric Fitness, is owned by Adam Rodman who is a bodybuilder himself. After spending a year as a trainer, Rodman eventually bought the establishment and has been running it for four years. On June 2, Rodman announced that they’d be moving to a bigger facility. The new location will be at 115 Industrial Dr. off of South Whelen Ave. and is expected to be open August 1.
Meyer started going to Stronger Version Fitness four years ago where she started with basic weightlifting programs to work on being more active and healthy. Eventually, she took interest in powerlifting, a strength-based sport that focuses on the maximum amount of weight a person can lift. For 2020, her goal was to run a full marathon, but training for the full 26.2 miles was difficult on her body. That was when Meyer first expressed interest in bodybuilding, even though she didn’t start working on her full transformation until the beginning of 2021.
At the Diva Classic, Meyer competed in the women’s bodybuilding division at the age 40 plus, beginner, and open levels. She won the first two categories and received 2nd place in the open category. Meyer also won the people’s choice award, which is selected by audience members at the competition. At the Junior USA Championship, Thums participated in the bikini division at the beginning, novice, and open levels, placing first in each category.
Meyer said that she experienced a lot of nervousness before competition, fearing that anything bad that could happen would happen. However the competition itself went by so fast that she didn’t have time to feel anxious.
“It was such a fast moving show that I didn’t have time to be afraid, so I think that was helpful. I didn’t realize I’d be so close to the judges that they could see my every flaw so close,” said Meyer.
Rodman said that one of the biggest struggles a bodybuilder faces is overcoming the scale. He explained that they are very hard on themselves and they have a habit of weighing themselves nearly everyday, even though they should be focusing more on non-scale victories as he referred to them as, giving the example of switching to lifting heavier dumbbells.
“We don’t give ourselves enough credit for just being better each day and trying to be better each day. Too many people look way down the line at where they want to be and not just try to make the smaller goals,” said Rodman.
Meyer said that her weight didn’t change for nearly a year when she first became interested in bodybuilding because she was gaining muscle as she was losing fat. It was a struggle for her to realize that the scale was not an indicator of progress. “The number on the scale didn’t really mean a thing for me,” said Meyer.
Meyer said one of her biggest obstacles was finding the time to truly commit to working out as much as she needed to, having to make some changes to her and her family’s schedules. Luckily, Meyer said that her family has been very supportive of her journey so far. “There’s a lot of time, there’s a lot of commitment, and there’s a lot of people involved in that journey to help you get where you need to go,” said Meyer.
One of the things that makes Stronger Version Fitness unique, according to Rodman, is the amount of support there is from everyone who goes there. Both Meyer and Rodman referred to the community as a family. “I call it a gym family and it’s kind of cliche, but it is like a big family here,” said Rodman.
Meyer explained that the people she’s met throughout her journey have been the greatest reward. “There’s so many people that supported me along the way, that really stands out to me,” said Meyer. Meyer also received a lot of support from some of the other trainers at Stronger Version Fitness, including Mandy Haenel and Julie Carlsen, as well as from Rodman, her official trainer. Rodman said that Meyer was one of his first clients in Medford.
Rodman started bodybuilding six years ago as a hobby, and then when he moved to Medford and started Stronger Version Fitness, he said he would tell people he saw there that they could have the potential to do bodybuilding or powerlifting, and as more people learned what bodybuilding was, the more people became interested. “I tell people that ‘if you want to do something, you can do it,’ and then I just give them some tools. It’s a lot of work on their end,” said Rodman.
Rodman said the business has helped 20 to 25 bodybuilders and 10 to 15 powerlifters in Medford and the surrounding Taylor County area stand up on the stage. He said that they have 17 people prepping for shows right now. “It’s crazy. You go to these shows and you have teams from bigger cities and they might have 4 or 5 [bodybuilders], and we go to some shows and we have 12 to 15 people,” said Rodman. “It’s not normal.”
Rodman emphasized that bodybuilding is a healthy sport and explained that every participant is drug tested before each competition. He said that bodybuilding is meant to work towards the best version of themselves. “Most people think it’s just stepping on stage in a bikini or a swimsuit. It’s not. It’s displaying a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Rodman. Both Meyer and Rodman said that a lot of people think that bodybuilders starve themselves to lose weight, but they explained that they probably eat more than the average person, even if their diet is very strict.
Rodman made his debut as a pro bodybuilder on May 28 at the Mr. & Ms. Natural Minnesota Pro North American in Bloomington, MN where he took 2nd place out of five. He participated in five amateur shows before winning a competition to become eligible to participate at the pro level. On July 10, Stronger Version Fitness is bringing 13 bodybuilders to the Wisconsin Warrior Natural Classic in Eau Claire, where Rodman said, they are hoping the team will win pro eligibility. Both Thums and Meyer will be participating in this upcoming competition.
Rodman said that all the effort the bodybuilders put in leads to worthwhile results. He explained that bodybuilding is more than being a competition, it’s about being healthy and working towards a better version of oneself. For Meyer, her journey has given her confidence. “I think now it’s shown me that I truly can do anything that I set my mind to,” said Meyer.